Some of the city's quirkier antiques shops have disappeared in recent years, but there are still tempting shops along "Antique Alley," as it's nicknamed, on rue Notre-Dame west of Vieux-Montréal. They're especially concentrated between rue Guy and avenue Atwater.
Antiques can also be found downtown along rue Sherbrooke near the Musée des Beaux-Arts, on the little side streets near the museum, in the Village on and around rue Amherst, and in the Mile End (Phil'Z 20th Century Design or Style Labo), or along boul. St-Laurent where you can also find many boutiques that sell new furniture and home decor accessories.
Arts, Crafts & Galleries
Some of Montréal's best crafts stores are in museums.
Montréal Fashion Week happens twice a year, in February/March and August/September. The 2011 event took place at the Marché Bonsecours and featured 24 Canadian designers, including Barilà, Marie Saint Pierre, and Rachel F. Photos are at www.montrealfashionweek.ca. The Montréal Fashion & Design Festival happens on avenue de McGill College in August. The enormous outdoor catwalk literally stops traffic as it takes over the street, which closes down to pedestrians only; visit www.festivalmodedesign.com. If secondhand clothing is your beat, Montréal boasts a heavenly network of vintage boutiques -- it's no secret that this is where much of Montréal's artsy style-mavens procure their looks. In the Mile End wander along rue Bernard or St-Viateur (I like Local 23), and in Little Burgundy go to Friperie La Gaillarde or ERA Vintage, a favorite haunt of Jean Paul Gaultier on a 2010 visit. There many other friperies, as they're called in French, scattered in the Plateau Mont-Royal, such as Cul de Sac, Rokokonut, and Friperie St-Laurent, all three in a row.
Montréal's major downtown shopping emporia stretch along rue Ste-Catherine from avenue Union westward to rue Guy. Most of the big department stores here were founded when Scottish, Irish, and English families dominated the city's mercantile class, so most of their names are identifiably English, albeit shorn of their apostrophes. The principal exception is La Baie, French for "the Bay," itself a shortened reference to an earlier name, the Hudson's Bay Company.
The food markets carry abundant assortments of cheeses, wines, and packaged food products that can serve as gifts or delicious reminders of your visit when you get home.
Wines & Spirits
The food markets carry a good variety of wines, which are also sold in supermarkets and convenience stores. Beer is also available in these venues.
Liquor and other spirits, on the other hand, can be sold only in stores operated by the provincial Société des Alcools du Québec (SAQ). The SAQ website, www.saq.com, provides a wealth of information about Québec wines and area outlets.
One of the largest outlets is the downtown SAQ Selection at 440 boul. de Maisonneuve ouest (tel. 514/873-2274), a veritable supermarket of wines and liquors with thousands of labels. Prices run from less than C$10 to way, way up for Bordeaux vintages. The downtown SAQ Signature at 677 rue Ste-Catherine ouest in the Complexe Les Ailes (tel. 888/454-7007 or 514/282-9445) is one of SAQ's boutique shops, featuring a smaller selection of rarer wines and fine liquors.
Bring your own carry bag when you visit a SAQ store: In 2009, the shops eliminated single-use plastic and paper bags. If you don't have one, you'll have to buy a reusable bag for C75¢ to C$1, depending on the size.
Québec's unique ice cider (cidre de glace), made from apples left on trees after the first frost, can be purchased in duty-free shops at the border, in addition to the stores listed above. One top producer is Domaine Pinnacle (tel. 450/263-5835; www.domainepinnacle.com), located about an hour and a half east of the city. It's a regular gold medalist in international competitions.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.